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Formula 1 Austrian GP

Norris “left the door open like an amateur” in Verstappen sprint defeat

Norris rues his tactics at the Red Bull Ring’s Turn 4 just after he had passed Max Verstappen in the frenetic early stages of the Austrian sprint race

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, locks up with Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38 just behind

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team

Lando Norris reckons he “left the door open like an amateur” in allowing Max Verstappen to repass on the Dutchman’s way to winning the Austrian Grand Prix’s Formula 1 sprint race.

The McLaren driver attacked Verstappen on lap five of the 23-lap contest, having been able to stay in DRS range during the opening tours – running so close Verstappen was even moved to defend at points when Norris had not yet made a lunge.

He eventually did at the sharply uphill Turn 3 right at the Red Bull Ring, with Norris gaining the lead as Verstappen was forced wide.

But with the Red Bull chasing hard on the run back down the hill to Turn 4, Norris failed to shut the door as his rival had been doing here on previous laps and Verstappen was able to make a similarly aggressive dive to the inside and retake the lead.

Oscar Piastri was then able to get ahead of Norris on the outside line as they all powered out of Turn 4, with Verstappen then running clear to win ahead of the two McLarens and Norris chasing Piastri closely to the finish.

When asked how he viewed the early-race battle with Verstappen, Norris said: “I think a little bit like I saw at the end.

“Once things settle in too much, once the tyres get too hard, it's difficult to do too much.

“So I had to make the most of my opportunity. Yeah, then I messed it up and left the door open like an amateur.

“So, yeah, some things to improve, but we're there and we can definitely give him a fight tomorrow [in the Austrian GP main race].”

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Norris also said “I definitely should have done a bit better in my battle” after climbing from his MCL38 in parc ferme.

“But I understand that,” he added. “And the pace of the car was very strong, especially the end of the race, and had a good battle trying to get past Oscar.

“But I just didn't have enough speed with how much you lose in the middle sector with the dirty air.

“It was a good race, a good load of points for us as McLaren. So, a good job to the team. And, of course, Max and Oscar for the podium.”

Norris reckoned there was little else McLaren could have done to beat Verstappen in the sprint contest, even though it appeared the two orange cars held each other up just when the Red Bull was vulnerable – as the two Ferraris did in the same contest here two years ago, before inflicting defeat on Verstappen in 2022’s Austria main race.

“We are fair to race and, yeah, it was just too difficult to get past,” Norris said of his battle with Piastri.

“But the pace was good. I don't think we would have had probably the pace to go with Max.

“I think he was maybe that little bit too quick for us today, but tomorrow's another day, and we'll try again.”

Piastri said of the moment he took second, “I could see that they were battling quite hard”.

“And into Turn 4, I saw the move was quite late [from Verstappen],” he added. “And I knew that there'd be an opportunity on the exit.

“I was hoping I would get both. But just bided my time and tried my best.

“I think I had probably one opportunity to try and get Max the lap after but just didn't quite have the pace after that.”

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